There is a new disease sweeping Europe. While the North continues to be afflicted by “Swebola,” the South is now being ravaged by a new illness, which I have taken the liberty of terming “Communesia,” a portmanteau term that combines “Communism” with “amnesia,” and denotes a collective forgetfulness about the ill effects of trusting one’s economy to Communist political control.
Now that the relevant European examples of Communism, once provided by the Soviet Bloc, are more than 25 years in the past, this is becoming an increasing problem in austerity-hit Europe.
Due to intra-European cultural or racial differences, the South of Europe tends to economically underperform against the more conscientious, innovative, and hard-working North. For this reason the South has always been attracted to various forms of political overcompensation, starting with Euro-Fascism in the early 20th century, and proceeding through the mass Euro-Communist movements of the post-war years.
In the case of Italy and Greece, Euro-Communism attracted vast followings. The Italian Communist Party once had 2.3 million members and got around a third of the vote even in the 1970s. In France, a country that combines Northern and Southern European characteristics, the French Communist Party could count on around 15% of the vote up to the 1980s.
Luckily the Greek Communists were kept in check by military action, both in the late 1940s, when they lost the Greek Civil War, and the 1960s, when an uncharacteristically efficient Greek military coup, assisted by the CIA, helped save Greece from the crypto-Communism of the United Democratic Left.
But although Communism was extremely popular in a Southern Europe unable to compete economically with the North, the main factor holding it in check was the growing realization that, in those countries which had adopted it through the intervention of the Red Army and the KGB, it simply did not work as an economic system.
As long as Greeks and Italians had a higher living standard than groups that should have economically out-performed them, like the Germans of the GDR and the Czechs, then the appeal of Communism was limited. Yes, ironically, the Communist world proved to be the biggest check on Communism.
But people’s memories are short and their stupidity long. Out of sight is out of mind, and, with glaring examples of Communist economic imbecility now limited to distant Cuba and North Korea, there are very few corrective examples for the low status, low income voters of Europe, now regaled with the serpent’s lies about the panacea of Communism.
With many European states subjected to mild austerity, which bites mainly because their economies had adopted elements of soft Communism, such as an inflated public sector, the voters have all but forgotten the long lines in front of empty shops that once typified most Communist economies in Eastern Europe.
The Greeks have fallen hardest for the lie that Communism is an antidote to austerity. The mild austerity in a mixed Western economy is only the antechamber to the Hell-zone of economic pain that any true Communism system would unleash. This is why Communism typically has to be backed up by dictatorship and force.
SYRIZA, for their part, will likely be thrown out after a few months of economic disruption or co-opted by the establishment, but if they had real power the policies that they now believe in would beggar Greece to African levels within a few years.
Yet, SYRIZA or something like it is now flavour of the month across Southern Europe. Spain, another country going through a bit of mild austerity and minor trimming of its public sector, is now turning increasingly to the leftist Podemos Party, which wants to write off part of Spain’s debt if it comes to power. This scenario is not entirely unlikely either, as a recent opinion poll, in November last year, gave the party a 27.7% approval rating, higher than any other party.
The party is now trying to cash in on the success of its Leftist ally SYRIZA by organizing mass rallies against Spain’s so-called austerity. A recent “March for Change” in Madrid attracted tens of thousands of people, at which the party’s leader, Pablo Iglesias, spoke of a “wind of change” starting to blow through Europe. “We dream but we take our dream seriously. More has been done in Greece in six days than many governments did in years,” he droned on, unleashing crowd-friendly cliché after crowd-friendly cliché.
Hopefully the short shrift given to SYRIZA by its creditors will help to remind the naive voters of these movements that you can’t just vote away the results of economic stupidity, and that the ballot box is not a magic wand. If not, a large section of Europe’s population may have to learn the hard way what Communism actually is.
Editor’s note: I wrote the captions. Not Colin, so he can’t be held responsible for anything said in them. – Mike E